2020 Vault Rankings
- Pro Bono#24
At a Glance
"Lack of face-time expectation.”
“I work with some stone-cold brilliant lawyers on cases that make news.”
“An enormous amount of case leadership responsibility”
"Lack of transparency.”
“Hours are unpredictable.”
About Williams & Connolly LLP
Williams & Connolly continues to hold its own against firms ten times its size by following a basic mantra: keep it simple. The firm’s roughly 300 attorneys focus almost exclusively on litigation from a single office in DC, positioning Williams & Connolly as a go-to firm for politicos, celebrities, major American companies and their executives, and even other law firms.
A Short, Illustrious History
Legendary litigator-to-the-stars Edward Bennett Williams teamed with Paul Connolly, a former student of his at Georgetown Law, to open shop in 1967. The fledgling firm soon boasted a client list that included the biggest names in Hollywood, politics, business, and media. Among its clients have been White House royalty like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and George W. Bush, as well as major household names like Walt Disney, Google, Intel, HSBC, Pfizer, Bayer, Bank of America, Office Depot, Merck, 21st Century Fox, The Washington Post, Mars, Samsung, CVS, HBO, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Eli Lilly, and Sprint.
Recognized for handling high-stakes, complex litigation, the firm has a thriving intellectual property practice ranging from pharmaceuticals to electronics, has presented oral argument to the Supreme Court 11 times in the last five years, and serves as national coordinating counsel and trial counsel for large product liability cases. The firm also represents numerous law firms and accounting firms in professional responsibility and other litigation—clients have included almost half of the AmLaw 100 and four of the top five accounting firms.
Just as highly regarded is the firm’s White Collar practice. The firm sits atop Vault’s White Collar Defense & Internal Investigations ranking, and many of the firm’s partners are recognized as leaders in the industry. The firm represents companies, individuals, and cabinet officials who are under investigation or are involved in criminal matters. Among its subspecialties are anti-money laundering, congressional investigations, False Claims Act & Qui Tam, FCPA, health care fraud, and securities enforcement, to name some.
These practice areas are just the beginning—keeping with its individualist ethos, Williams & Connolly operates without strict departmental boundaries, allowing attorneys to move among any number of litigation areas.
The Future Is Within
While Williams & Connolly has a summer program, many associates don’t join the firm immediately after law school graduation, instead opting to clerk. This allows the firm to have an inside view of the nation’s highest court and the federal appellate courts—former SCOTUS clerks now at the firm are in the double digits, and former federal appellate court clerks are in the triple digits. Indeed, fully three quarters of all associates and partners are former federal clerks. The firm focuses its recruiting on law students, former clerks, and junior-level attorneys and grooms these lawyers for partnership. According to the firm, it “likes to grow its talent from within.” Although it isn’t completely out of the question, the firm rarely hires senior lateral candidates.
News & Awards
Williams & Connolly is defending HBO and comedian John Oliver against the defamation suit brought by coal company Murray Energy, alleging that a segment on “Last Week Tonight” contained false and malicious statements concerning the collapse of a Utah coal mine. The firm filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which the court granted, and continues to serve as lead counsel on appeal. Williams & Connolly is also defending The Washington Post in a lawsuit brought by a Covington, Kentucky high school student, who alleges that the newspaper falsely accused him of racist acts and instigating a confrontation with a Native American activist in a January 2019 videotaped incident at the Lincoln Memorial.
Williams & Connolly successfully represented Eli Lilly in matters against several generic drug manufacturers who challenged a patent protecting Lilly’s blockbuster anti-cancer drug Alimta®. In April 2019, the Federal Circuit upheld three PTAB decisions in favor of Lilly denying inter partes review; in June 2018, a federal court ruled in favor of Lilly on claims of infringement after trial; and in 2017, the Federal Circuit unanimously affirmed two district court judgments in favor of Lilly concerning the same Alimta® patent.
Lisa Blatt, one of the nation’s premier appellate advocates, rejoined Williams & Connolly as head of the firm’s Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation practice. Lisa has argued 37 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, more than any other woman in U.S. history.
Continuing its longstanding pro bono work on behalf of clients seeking asylum in the United States from torture and abuse in their home countries, Williams & Connolly filed suit on behalf of nine asylum seekers whom the government has sought to bar from seeking asylum under new regulations issued in 2018 that preclude asylum for those entering the United States outside of an official port of entry. The litigation is ongoing.
- Defended U.S. Senator Ted Stevens against federal corruption charges, leading the Attorney General to move to dismiss the case after the firm exposed a stunning example of prosecutorial misconduct.
- Defended President Bill Clinton in the impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate, and represented Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi investigation.
- Won a complete defense verdict in Mitre Sports v. HBO, the first major defamation case to go to trial against a national television broadcaster in years.
- Successfully defended AstraZeneca at trial and on appeal against allegations of an antitrust conspiracy in the settlement of patent litigation concerning the blockbuster drug Nexium®.
- Ranked by Benchmark Litigation among the top tier firms nationwide for Appellate, General Commercial Litigation, Product Liability, White Collar Crime, and Intellectual Property - 2019
- Four partners named among Benchmark Litigation’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, and five partners named among Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation - 2018/2019
- Named to The National Law Journal’s “Appellate Hot List” - 2018
- Law360’s Practice Groups of the Year in Appellate, Health Care, and Securities - 2019
- LMG Life Sciences Litigation Firm of the Year - 2018
725 Twelfth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 434-5000
Executive Director: Jennifer Scott
Managing Partner: R. Hackney Wiegmann
Hiring Committee Chair: Ellen E. Oberwetter
Total No. Attorneys 2019:
250 - 500
1st year: $200,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $230,000
4th year: $260,000
5th year: $285,000
6th year: $310,000
7th year: $330,000
8th year: $345,000
9th year: $350,000
Summer associate: $3,845/week
Summer Associate Offers:
The firm says: "Because many of Williams & Connolly’s summer associates obtain judicial clerkships, formal offers are only extended after the clerks receive permission from judges to request offers. Typically, all summer associates who request offers are welcomed for permanent employment.”
No. of Summer Associates:
31 total (All 2Ls) (2018)
Natasha M. Zech, Esq.
Director of Attorney Recruiting and Development
Civil Litigation and Trial Practice
Criminal Defense and Government Investigations
Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.